Virtual Schooling Tips

Dominique Dragon |

Like it or not, millions of students are accessing their education virtually this year, and around the country, schools are using different models, platforms, and approaches with varying results. Some students are thriving or getting by, others are struggling or becoming completely disengaged.

So how can you help your child become a better online learner? Here are some suggestions and ways to help:

Learning the Ropes:

While you don't want to become your child's de facto teacher, it will help if you have a basic understanding of the primary tools your child is using and what their school and teachers will expect. Questions you might ask include:

  • How will my student know what's expected of him/her in each subject?
  • Which platforms/programs does my child need to access, and is there a parent login option?
  • How much time is my student expected to put in each day?
  • What's the best way for me and my student to communicate with the teacher?
  • What are the school's expectations for synchronous learning?

Setting your Kid up for Success:

Help your child set up a space and a schedule for their remote learning time. At a minimum, they should have a designated space to work, free from too much noise and distraction. In addition, having a schedule is critical for their success. Set or help them figure out a consistent wake-up time and a system for tackling their work each day.

Create an Intervention Plan:

Nobody likes (or wants to be) a helicopter parent, but this year presents an unusual dilemma: Is it better to be on top of our kids so they don't fall too behind during this difficult year, or should we let them sink or swim so that they can learn from it - or simply to keep the peace at home? One compromise is to create a plan with your student about when you will check their grades, how well they need to be doing, and what will trigger a higher level of involvement from you.

More Tips for Parents:

  • Talk to teachers: Your child's teachers want to help. In fact, having students reach out and ask questions or make a virtual appointment actually makes their job easier in the long run. If your child is struggling, communicate with the teacher, and enlist their help.
  • Decide what's important: This may not be the year to push your child towards high achievement. If they're doing reasonably well and their mental health (and yours) is decent, consider that a success.
  • Take a break from screens: Now that students are having to do school online, even they are wishing they could get a break from screens. Schedule screen-free time for your family, not as a punishment but as a necessary break.

The Benefits of Online School:

Perhaps the best way to approach this year of virtual learning is to consider not what young people will lose, but what they might gain. Young people who are stuck with virtual schooling could become amazing independent learners, equipped to navigate a complex virtual working environment and with highly developed "soft skills", like persistence, time management, the ability to ask for help.

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